(Halifax) – The Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA), representing over 35,000 university students across the province, welcomes amendments to the Municipal Elections Act that will make voting in municipal elections more accessible for youth. Municipal Relations Minister, John MacDonnell, introduced legislation today that would remove discriminatory language towards “unmarried students” from the municipal elections act.
The previous legislation dictated that an unmarried student could only vote at their family home during a municipal election. Under the old legislation, a student does not have the option of voting in the community where they live and study. The new legislation allows a student the option to choose where they vote – either at home or at school.
“Allowing students to choose whether or not they vote at home or at school is a huge step forward for making young people full and valued citizens within their communities,” says ANSSA Executive Director, Mark Coffin. “The old legislation made it very difficult for a young person to participate in local government, this legislation makes it much easier.”
“If the government is serious about encouraging youth participation in democracy, the obvious next step is to amend section 10 of the act so that the ‘ordinary polling day’ for municipal elections across the province happens at some point after December 1st,” adds Coffin. “The unfortunate timing of elections in Nova Scotia still sends the message that young people should not be full participants in democracy.”
The current “ordinary polling day” is on the third Saturday in October. This means that anyone who is not ordinarily resident in a municipality prior to mid-July cannot vote in the municipal election.
Municipal elections in Nova Scotia always happen in mid-October, when most students aren’t eligible to vote. Additionally, every provincial election in the last 13 years has been held during the summer period, a time when a student’s residency is less certain than during the school year.
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